In all things God works for the good

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Synopsis (from Amazon): Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Discussion: I enjoy murder mysteries. It is one of my favorite genres; my middle child seems to gravitate towards them as well. While reading, we discuss the possible suspects and theories about the murders. I am usually pretty bad at guessing the ending. However, with this book, I made a guess by page 70, never changed it, and it was correct. The book wasn’t very suspenseful or exciting, as I like to keep guessing until the end.

The main character seemed to have a bad attitude towards religion and religious people. If she ran across someone religious, the implication was it was a fault in their personality. She also suggested that science and religion are not complementary, and one can’t be a person of science and a person of God at the same time. She also had a lot of suffering in her background with her mother’s death, and she couldn’t understand how a God could allow this type of suffering. Those two themes (science versus God and a loving God who allows suffering) are where most of my thoughts went with this book. I think the concept of suffering is harder to understand. I have already blogged about this in my The Giver post, which you can read.

The first thing we have to remember as Christians – we are the body of Christ.

1 Cor 12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

1 Cor 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

Rom 12:5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ

Jesus chose to save the world by His redemptive suffering. In the Bible, we can see how the early Christians saw suffering as a way to participate and imitate Jesus.

1 Pt 4:13 But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ

Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church.

Rom 8:17 if only we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Phil 3:10 to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings by being conformed to His death.

As Christians, our goal is to continue Jesus’ mission through our good works and our sufferings and by offering them up to Jesus. Many Christians disagree that we are to offer our good works and sufferings to God. They see their goal as solely having faith in Jesus. Yet, we are called to imitate Jesus:

Jn 13:15 I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

Jesus did many good works and chose to suffer and die for us. Many Christians think this viewpoint means that his death was lacking and that Catholics think He needs our help, or we earn our salvation. He does not, and we cannot. Nothing lacking in Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. Jesus does not need our help. The analogy I like to give is this:

There is a mother of 5 cooking dinner for her family. Her 4-year-old son comes into the kitchen and asks if he can help her cook dinner. The mother cooks every day, and she is quite skilled at cooking for a family of 7. She doesn’t need any help. However, her son is there. He loves his mother and wants to offer her his time, skills, and efforts to be united with his mother’s work. The mother looks at her son, whom she loves, and she says yes. The 4-year-old goes to the counter and starts breaking eggs into a bowl. When the mother comes over, she sees her son has made a mess of things. There are eggshells in the bowl and egg yolk on the counter. The mother makes his work and efforts whole by removing the eggshells and adding another egg to make up for the yolk on the counter.

This is how we should view our works and suffering. We love Jesus and therefore want to live for Him through our works and sufferings. When we offer them up to God, they are messy and not perfect. Jesus receives our offerings and makes them whole as only He can. He does not need us, but it is through love that He allows our suffering to have meaning, just as His did. Jesus’ mission to save us is complete. We all have salvation through Jesus’ Paschal Mystery.

The world is a broken place. Our love for Jesus and His church will not stop us from living in this broken world that contains suffering. Christians are not exempt from feeling the physical, mental, or moral sufferings from sin. Our blessing is knowing that it can be used for good, as we are His body.